Surgeons from Moorfields and Guy’s perform robotic eye cancer operation

Surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust have used a robot to help perform a “delicate procedure” to remove a cancerous tumour from next to a patient’s eye.

According to Moorfields, it’s believed the surgery is a “world-first” of its kind, and the operation helped to save the patient’s sight.

The 85-year-old patient, Irene Milton, had previously been told that treatment of her recurrent basal cell carcinoma, on the inner corner of her right eye, would require her eye to be removed. However, the successful surgery means her eye and vision remain intact, and she’s not expected to need radiotherapy.

The da Vinci robot system used in the surgery allows surgeons to “perform precise procedures in a minimally invasive way”, so that patients can then hopefully recover more quickly. In this case, the technology allowed surgeons to work in the delicate eye area with “enhanced precision” and a “magnified view” – leading to successful removal of the tumour while preserving the nerves and function of the eye.

Irene said: “I am so pleased at the outcome – I haven’t lost my eye and they got the cancer out. It’s such a relief, I’m over the moon. It’s nice to know that you’re never too old to have anything done, especially pioneering surgery.”

On the collaboration between Moorfields and Guy’s and St Thomas’, Claire Daniel, consultant oculoplastic surgeon and lid oncology lead at Moorfields Eye Hospital, commented: “We have developed a highly specialised periocular cancer unit thanks to our excellent collaboration with Guy’s and St Thomas’, enabling us to share our expertise in treating these very difficult cases.”

And, on Irene’s progress, she added: “Irene has done really well after her surgery and it’s very exciting to be able to provide such a great service for our patients affected by cancer. This is truly a world-leading advance in orbital surgery, which we will build on in the future.”

Tumours on the eye are said to be rare but symptoms of eye cancer can include, according to Cancer Research UK: bulging of one eye; complete or partial loss of sight; pain in or around the eye; a pale, raised lump on the eye’s surface; blurred vision; change in the appearance of an eye; a lump on the eyelids or around the eye; seeing spots or flashes of light, or wiggly lines; blinkered vision; a dark spot on the iris, which is getting bigger; eye irritation or inflammation.

Both Moorfields and Guy’s and St Thomas’ have featured in HTN before, for their use of technology in surgery. Just last year, Moorfields was awarded a grant to assess artificial intelligence (AI) cataract surgery technology, while Guy’s and St Thomas’ recently featured in our news in brief after announcing it had received a new surgical robot – a da Vinci system – to help speed up cancer operations.

Moorfields has also been in the news again recently, after appointing Peter Thomas as its new chief clinical information officer.